A GROUP of Brisbane daredevils are bucking a trend that has decimated the southeast Queensland motorsport community, and they’re attracting 240,000 people to the region in the process.
At a time when the region’s commercial motorsport tracks are either shutting or are mere days away from closing, a Brisbane the group has just opened a world-class motocross facility that offers revheads a safe place to ride.
Since opening in February, Willowbank MX has become so popular that some patrons are travelling from up to two hours away just to ride there.
Now, the group behind the track is about to open a second stage, offering even more to entice lovers of high-octane thrills.
Willowbank MX Operations Manager Jeff Gibson says the privately owned park caters to the growing demand of MX riders looking for somewhere fun and safe to ride.
“As more and more tracks close in southeast Queensland, due to closing-in residential areas and poor safety records, the need for a park where riders could ride safely was very important,” Mr Gibson says.
“The numbers riding dirt bikes is growing, but the public space available for them is getting smaller.
“Too many people were riding illegally in Queensland, resulting in unnecessary accidents and fatalities. Thanks to Willowbank MX we can now provide a safe space for them to ride.”
To guarantee Willowbank MX couldn’t face the same future as other tracks, the team engaged Objective Property services Director Paul McMahon to find the right site, for today and into the future.
Mr McMahon spent four years searching, before finding the 35-hectare site, which is surrounded by a coal mine, an explosives plant, a bentonite mine and is close to the raceway.
“This was the perfect site,” Mr McMahon says. “The area is zoned for industrial and
motorsports, which meant that the site was code assessable. The fact that the neighbours are mostly mines means that noise will not be a problem.”
Mr McMahon says the facility, within close proximity to Willbowbank Raceway, will help the area become a world-renowned motorsport precinct while also adding a motor sport that is not already featured.
“This comes at a time when Willowbank is about to get a $220 million upgrade, which makes this such a destination area,” he says.
Willowbank MX is open to juniors, seniors and vintage riders. Stage one includes a main 1.6km MX track, a senior stadium track, a separate junior stadium track, a pee-wee track and a flat rut track.
Stage two will include a new two-kilometre track that will deliver exactly what riders want.
“We sought feedback from riders to see what they wanted to see in future stages,”
Willowbank MX track manager Matt McGahey says. “The new track was designed with input from park owner Matt Hayworth, (owner of iconic park Hayworth Park).
“This 2km track is in the final testing stage. We asked several national pro riders such as Luke Stykes and Robbie Marshall to provide feedback.
“Based on the feedback we have altered the layout, made the track longer so the pro riders could have over a two minute lap time and also added a rhythm section.
“The second track is more open and flowing, and has sand sections, which provides a different riding experience. It’s really exciting to be involved in a project that will change the face of motocross in Brisbane.
“At the moment, a lot of riders are travelling over two hours each way to get to safe places to ride.
“Actually, going by our ticket sales since February over 30,000 riders have travelled to the Ipswich region to visit our tracks. That’s a great boost for local tourism and economy, while also providing a safe place for local residents to ride. It’s a win-win situation.”